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TOWN HALLS GET READY FOR THE BUG

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Local councils have a key role to play in ensuring that it's business ...
Local councils have a key role to play in ensuring that it's business

as usual on 1 January 2000 - people won't stand for less, local

government minister Hilary Armstrong said today.

Local government is responsible for a range of systems which could

be affected by millennium bug problems - from key services such as

traffic management to payment of benefits.

Following publication of an Audit Commission report on the challenge

of the year 2000 date change, Hilary Armstrong said:

'It is good to see that many councils are getting ready to deal

with millennium bug problems. But I am concerned that some,

particularly district councils, are falling behind.

'All councils must give these issues a higher priority if they are

to meet a timetable that nobody can alter. The time to act is now.

'The government's preparations for dealing with the millennium bug

are very well-advanced. We have invested a considerable amount of

time, energy and resources in these preparations. Every government

department and agency has a plan to address this issue and we are

doing everything to ensure that essential services are not

threatened.

'It is widely recognised that as a result of the actions we have

taken this government is at the forefront in the world in preparing

for the millennium bug. Local government has a vital part to play.

This is a government priority. It is important that councils make it

a priority too.

'The deputy prime minister has made clear his personal commitment

on this issue and has been working with Jeremy Beecham, chairman

of the Local Government Association, to get councils signed up to the

Action 2000 pledge.

'The LGA will be holding a seminar on the Year 2000 issue early in

the new year. The Audit Commission has said that it is prepared to

name and shame laggard authorities by next spring. They will have

every opportunity to get their act together before then.'

NOTES

The deputy prime minister and Sir Jeremy wrote to all council

leaders on 30 March about the need for action by all sectors of the

community to counter the threat posed by the millennium date change

problem.

On 18 August, the deputy PM signed Pledge 2000 on behalf

of the government and its agencies. Pledge 2000 was developed by

Action 2000 to help all organisations work in partnership and foster

a spirit of cooperation. (The government, through DTI, is funding

Action 2000 to raise awareness about and help businesses to tackle

the Millennium Bug. Their helpline is 0845 601 2000). The government

publishes information on each department's preparations and quarterly

statements to parliament on http://www.open.gov.uk/citu/cituhome.htm

On 20 October, Mr Prescott and Sir Jeremy wrote jointly to

all council leaders to re-emphasise the need for action. The letter

specifically asked them to:

- make a positive public commitment by signing Pledge 2000 on behalf

of their councils

- appoint someone at member level to take public responsibility for

seeing that action on this issue isdriven forward throughout the

authority at all levels

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